National

DGCA bans IndiGo pilot for 'threatening' passenger

DGCA suspended an IndiGo pilot for three months for an altercation on-board a plane last month with a lady passenger accompanying a wheelchair-bound senior citizen. Photo used for representation purpose only. File

DGCA suspended an IndiGo pilot for three months for an altercation on-board a plane last month with a lady passenger accompanying a wheelchair-bound senior citizen. Photo used for representation purpose only. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

This is first instance in the recent past where the regulatory body has acted against a crew member for misbehaving with a passenger

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday suspended the flying licence of an IndiGo pilot for three months for “threatening and intimidating” a woman passenger accompanying a wheelchair-bound senior citizen on January 13, 2020.

“The pilot’s attitude towards the wheelchair-bound senior citizen was intimidating, threatening and lacked compassion. His actions led to avoidable detention,” the DGCA said in a statement.

Sharing her ordeal of “harassment” on Twitter shortly after the incident, Bengaluru resident Supriya Unni Nair said the pilot stopped her and her 75-year-old mother from deplaning the aircraft after she insisted on a wheelchair for the latter. The wheelchair had been booked by her before embarking on the flight but the crew members said they had no access to it, leading to an argument.

Probe ordered

Civil Aviation Minister of State Hardeep Singh Puri, taking note of her social media post, asked the DGCA to probe the matter.

The DGCA also found the pilot guilty of misusing his authority, threatening to hand over the woman passenger to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), and warning her of a police complaint for her “unruly” behaviour. It highlighted that the pilot stopped the two passengers from deplaning the aircraft for nearly 1 hour and 15 minutes after other passengers had started deboarding.

“His actions led to the detention of a wheelchair-bound passenger. The PIC [pilot-in-command] exhibited lack of ability in managing a threat and error situation, especially when he was to operate another commercial flight after a short duration,” DGCA chief Arun Kumar said.

2018 Rules

This is the first instance in the recent past where the DGCA has acted against a crew member for misbehaving with a passenger. When the government framed rules on “unruly passengers” in 2018 and provided for a ban on air travel from three months to up to two years, it faced criticism for not holding crew members similarly accountable for their conduct.

(With inputs from Aditya Anand in Mumbai)

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 4:27:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dgca-suspends-indigo-pilot-for-three-months/article30783608.ece

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